Digital, online, and other electronic technology has transformed the nature of social work practice and education. Contemporary social workers can provide services to clients through online counseling, telephone counseling, video counseling, cybertherapy (avatar therapy), self-guided web-based interventions, electronic social networks, e-mail, and text messages. In addition, increasing numbers of social work education programs are using distance education technology to teach their students. Social work administrators store electronic records in the “cloud” and community organizers use online social networking sites to facilitate their work. The introduction of diverse digital, online, and other forms of electronic social services has created a wide range of complex ethical and related risk management issues. This article provides an overview of current technology used in social work, identifies compelling ethical issues, and explores risk management issues. The author identifies relevant standards from the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics; model regulatory standards adopted by the Association of Social Work Boards; and practice standards adopted jointly by the National Association of Social Workers, Association of Social Work Boards, Council on Social Work Education, and Clinical Social Work Association
Frederic G. Reamer
Information technology (IT), which encompasses tools and prescribed actions, has begun to substantially impact social work, given 50 years of impressive developments. This entry looks at IT trends and their impact on society and social work. The trends covered concern rapid IT development, connectivity, globalization and outsourcing, intelligent applications and devices, centralization and distribution of power and control, and distance education. Issues and challenges for social work are also discussed.